When it comes to bonding with our best friends, we've got nothin' against brunch, spa afternoons, and other girly staples. But, while all of those expected activities are a grand ol' time, sometimes we need to break away from the usual routine. Sure, we'll always appreciate a mimosa (or three), but there's something to be said for out-of-the-ordinary activities that make us say, "Remember that one time we...?"
So, we've rounded up nine ideas for fun, unforgettable friend dates — whether you go for a one-time-only adventure or create a new tradition for you and your bestie. (Yes, there may be costumes involved.) Try one, try 'em all — but whatever you do, we can promise you a good time. And hey — you can always go out for brunch afterward.
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Photo: Courtesy of Lara Maldjian and Leah Perrotti. Designed by Austin Watts.
You have to eat, right? Might as well cook for two, as New Yorkers Lara Maldjian and Leah Perrotti did. Before pairing up to teach themselves cooking
basics, both women found kitchen duty stressful and frustrating. Not so, when they were together. Well, sorta.
"Every time Lara and I went into the kitchen, I would say, 'I love cooking. I find it so relaxing,'" Perrotti recalls. "It was obviously a huge lie, but I said it every time, and then at some point we both started to believe it." Eventually, the duo relaxed and — wait for it — actually began to enjoy
cooking. "We learned to make a lot of delicious foods in that tiny kitchen, and it made us closer every time," Maldjian says. Looking to tie on your own apron strings with a friend? Try learning a new kind of cuisine or, if you're daring, work on perfecting your own cronut
recipe. (Hey, it beats waiting in line for one.)
Photo: Courtesy of The Enthusiasts. Designed by Austin Watts.
Used to be that the word "geek" was an insult. These days, though, being geeky is cool — as NaShantá Fletcher, a Chicago-based gamer and cosplayer, can attest. Through carefully constructed costuming, she and her friends have transformed themselves into pop-culture icons such as Josie and the Pussycats, Wonder Woman, and Storm. "Who didn't love to play dress-up when they were kids?" she asks. "Cosplaying with my friends has given me a chance to be that kid again. We can dress up in ball gowns and be super-girly Disney Princesses one day, and turn around and be bad-ass super heroes the next day." And, while we know that not everybody will go full-force into the next comics convention, you can introduce a little geekiness into your friendship by planning, say, a board-game session. So, go on — let your inner Poindexter live.
Photo: Courtesy of Aly Maier and Gretchen Thomas. Designed by Austin Watts.
For the adventurous duo, may we suggest the flying trapeze? New Yorkers Aly Maier and Gretchen Thomas took a trapeze class together last year, and they've since returned for more airborne adventures. What you need to make it fun, they say, is a healthy sense of adventure. "It's not for everyone, but it is a great opportunity to try something new and face your fears, and also to hear your friends encourage you and cheer when you do a good job," says Maier.
Not sure you'll be able to flip and fly gracefully? Don't stress, says Thomas: "Honestly, even if you totally suck at it, it's cause for some hilarious moments."
Photo: Courtesy of Vanessa Buccella. Designed by Austin Watts.
We love bicycling, whether it's done at a leisurely pace or — as cycling friends Vanessa Buccella and Annie Byrne do — at a crazy-fast clip. Part of the same Chicago cycling club, they ride together at least once a week. "There are so many reasons that cycling is an awesome BFF date," Buccella says. "It gives you a lot of time together, since rides can last three hours or more. Cycling can be painful when you are going hard, and living through painful experiences together brings you closer."
Photo: Courtesy of Connie Hwong. Designed by Austin Watts.
Road trips are fun. Road trips on two wheels, though? We're talking some seriously next-level good times. While visiting Palm Springs, San Franciscans Connie Hwong and Amelia Mendez hopped aboard scooters to check out the area's mid-century modern architecture, thrift stores, and estate sales. "We underestimated the challenges of riding around in a 110-degree desert," Hwong admits. "Still, I would definitely recommend getting on a scooter — just wait for the weather to cool down!" And, though it should go without saying...do as these ladies did and please, wear a helmet, Speed Racer.
Photo: Courtesy of Tiffani Saxton. Designed by Austin Watts.
If you've ever wanted to play Holmes and Watson for a day, then you pretty much need to set up a scavenger hunt, stat. That's what Tiffani Saxton and her friend Matt Story did as part of a murder mystery-themed scavenger hunt that took them all over Hollywood. "I would recommend that you do a scavenger hunt with anyone who doesn't take themselves too seriously — someone who allows their kid at heart to come out and play," Saxton says.
Photo: Courtesy of Jeremy Bolen. Designed by Austin Watts.
Despite what Behind The Music may imply, not all bands explode into dramatic catfights. In the case of the Chicago-based all-girl band Coupleskate, playing music together has actually strengthened their friendships — yes, even while they've crammed into a van to tour. "You're all there for the same reason — to feed off of each other via a creative process," bassist Lauren Viera says. "But with my band, at least, we often spend just as much time chatting and catching up on each other's lives before we plug in. It's a great way to stay close with people you love, because you're seeing each other routinely."
And what if you don't actually, y'know, play an instrument? "It's never too late to learn something new — guitar, bass, drums — and bringing a friend along is always more fun than going solo," Viera says. So, tune in, turn on, and rock out.
Photo: Courtesy of Stephanie Reynolds. Designed by Austin Watts.
Quick, while the weather's still decent: Get. Out. Side. Think hiking, kayaking, tubing...whatever gets you and a friend breathing some fresh air. For New Yorkers Stephanie Reynolds and Courtney Bennett, trekking outdoors has become a go-to bonding experience. "We both like exercising, so hiking and outdoor activities just give us a nice alternative to the routines we have in the city," Reynolds says. "It feels good to get out of the studios and classes and spend the day where the scenery is so beautiful." Combine fresh air, conversation, and a workout, and you've got one excellent expedition for two.
Photo: Courtesy of Elyse Koenig. Designed by Austin Watts.
"Volunteering helps you grow individually, so doing it with a friend helps you grow together," says Elyse Koenig. She would know — for more than two years, she and her friend Kristin Breen have been volunteering
for an animal-adoption nonprofit in NYC. "[Volunteering] brings you closer while doing something for others, but also gives you plenty of time for girl talk with the commute and lunch break." So, instead of just sending Grumpy Cat
links back and forth, consider giving your time to an actual kitty — or whatever cause touches your hearts.